Monster “Cable” Line

jeremy barilCorrespondent IJune 5, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - 2007:  Mario Henderson of the Oakland Raiders poses for his 2007 NFL headshot at photo day in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Getty Images)

Once a laughingstock, this offensive line should finally overcome the bad label and become a strength of the offense this year.

In 2007 Tom Cable become the offensive line coach and started the recent revival of the Raiders offensive line by transitioning from a typical Al Davis man blocking scheme into a zone blocking scheme.

Immediately the rushing offense went from 29th in the league to 6th in the league despite no passing offense. Sacks went from 72 in 2006 down to 41 in 2008.

Players were brought in because they could immediately fill in as starters while the team transitioned into an offensive line built over 3 years to be a good zone blocking unit.

Jim Michalczik was brought in as the O line head coach once Tom Cable became head coach, but make no mistake about it; this is still Cable’s O line. Michalczik preaching the same system Cable has preached since becoming head coach. He’s a highly known zone blocking coach from Cal (who just took a job at UW to be their O line coach).

After 3 year it appears most of this line is set. Mario Henderson is set to become the LT this year based on the team’s recent mini-camp and OTA’s in addition to his stellar play the last few games of the season. Robert Gallery has finally found a home at LG and showed last season he could become a Pro Bowl G. Samson Satele is should excel as a C in zone blocking. Cooper Carlisle will continue to play RG and RT is up for grabs among a group of solid backups for the zone, Erik Pears, Cornell Green, and Khaliff Barnes.

Mario Henderson though will be the key to the rebirth of this offensive line. At 6’7” 300 lbs he’s definitely got the size, arm length, and mobility to be a very good blocker. If he’s willing to do the work necessary to keep his position then I have no concerns about the LT position for the next 10 years. Even in a man scheme those long arms and good footwork are great for pass protection.

With Henderson, Gallery, Satele, Carlisle, & whoever ends up at RT I finally am looking forward to a solid offensive line in Oakland.

Once the O line is set the last thing the Raiders will have to do is improve Jamarcus Russell. From the limited reports on Russell yesterday in OTA’s he looked liked he’s improving thus a great sign to see for this offense.

As a diehard Raiders fan it’s definitely nice knowing the offense finally has the horses to play with the Steelers, Giants, and other teams for once in the past 6 years. This team finally has a lot of depth and players who would start on other rosters unlike previous years.

Obviously there’s still concerns on Defense, but I am happy knowing the offense is nearly complete and the defense isn’t that far off with Nnamdi Asomogha, Tommy Kelly, Trevor Scott, Jay Richardson, Thomas Howard, & Kirk Morrison as a great start to a rock solid D.